"I was inspired to write ‘My Sweet Lord’ by the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ version of ‘Oh Happy Day’. I thought a lot about whether to do ‘My Sweet Lord’ or not, because I would be committing myself publicly and I anticipated that a lot of people might get weird about it. Many people fear the words ‘Lord’ and ‘God’ - makes them angry for some strange reason.
The point was, I was sticking my neck out on the chopping block because now I would have to live up something, but at the same time I thought, ‘Nobody’s saying it; I wish somebody else was doing it.’ You know, everybody is going ‘Be-bop baby’ - Ok it may be good to dance to, but I was naïve and thought we should express our feelings to each other – not suppress them and keep holding them back. Well, it was what I felt, and why should I be untrue to myself? I came to believe in the importance that if you feel something strong enough then you should say it.
I wasn’t consciously aware of the similarity between ‘He’s So Fine’ and ‘My Sweet Lord’ when I wrote the song as It was more improvised and not so fixed, although when my version of the song came out and started to get a lot of airplay people started talking about it and it was then I thought, ‘Why didn’t I realise?’. It would have been very easy to change a note here or there, and not affect the feeling of the record.
I thought ‘My Sweet Lord’ was a good ‘record’. In the recording industry there are ‘songs’ and ‘records’ - anyway I thought the overall sound of the record was as important as the words or tune – the atmosphere really. I wanted to show that ‘Halleluja’ and ‘Hare Krishna’ are quite the same thing. I did the voices singing ‘Halleluja’ first and then the change to ‘Hare Krishna’ so that people would be chanting the Maha Mantra – before they knew what was going on! I had been chanting ‘Hare Krishna’ for a long time and this song was a simple idea of how to do a Western pop equivalent to a ‘mantra’, which repeats over and over again, holy names.
I don’t feel guilty or bad about it, in fact it saved many a heroin addict’s life. I know the motive behind writing the song in the first place and its effect far exceeded the legal hassle. ‘This Song’, discussed later, has more to say about the legal thing."
Excerpted from the book 'I Me Mine'